In Omaha, each player recieves 4 hole cards and everyone shares 5 community cards, similar to Texas Hold'em. The catch is that you must use exactly 2 cards from your hand and 3 cards from the board to make your 5-card poker hand. In general the winning hands in Omaha are much better than the winning hands in Texas Hold'em.
When you are first playing Omaha, you should make sure you are actually using 2 cards from your hand, and not 3 or 1.
Omaha is similar to Texas Hold'em. The difference is that the hands in Omaha are usually much better, since you get to choose from 9 cards total.
The five cards on the table are community cards. Your hand is formed by taking exactly two hole cards and exactly three community cards, and forming the best poker hand possible. But remember, all the players have access to the community cards. When played for money, there is a round of betting after a round of cards is dealt (so four rounds of betting in total).
Omaha is not as popular as Texas Hold'em but the games are there if you look for them. Many good Hold'em players want to try out Omaha and are unfamiliar with the game, but they may still play at high limits because they are good at Hold'em. These players generally play too loose after the flop. In hold'em, two pair is usually a very strong hand. In Omaha, it can often cost you a fortune. This is because you'll rarely get paid off big when holding two pair but will often wind up paying off someone else with a higher two pair, set, straight or flush.
Also, Omaha is much more of a technical game because it is easy to see what the best hand is, since usually there is a flush or a straight on board and often somebody has one. By "technical" I don't mean that Omaha is a more complex game. On the contrary, it can be simpler, because it is more a game of straightforward probabilities, whereas the psychological element in Texas Hold'em is much stronger. Bluffing is not as big of an element in Omaha especially in long-handed games where there are several players in each pot.
At the low-limit Omaha games, there are a lot of opportunities if you have the patience. Many of these games are filled with players who are playing far too loose because everyone thinks that their two-pair is a great hand. The best strategy is to play hands that do well in multi-way pots and bet hard when you have the nuts. Please note: this article is intended for beginners playing low-limit Omaha games where the play tends to be loose and passive. It is not intended for more serious Omaha games.
There is another version of Omaha called Omaha hi-lo. In this game the high hand and low hand split the pot. This article will not discuss the hi-lo version; I will only talk about Omaha hi.
In longhanded Omaha there really isn't any such thing as a "dominant hand" preflop. You could get two Aces and two Kings and still easily get beat. However, that isn't to say that you should call to the flop with just anything. You should still play good hands, although now there are many types of good hands, hands that become dominant after the flop hits. So, although some hands are better than others, the implied odds will have a huge effect on what hands you are playing in hyper-loose environment of low-limit Omaha.
In hold'em, the difference between a good starting hand and a mediocre starting hand is huge. In Omaha, starting hands are not as important. A hand like A A K 4 is only a 58% favorite against a hand like 8 6 5 4.
The best starting hands in low-limit Omaha are hands where you hit two pair and your draw, for example K Q J 10. (A great flop would be Q J 3.) Those hands are a bit rare, so another good hand in a loose game would just be a hand with a lot of drawing possibilities. If you are expecting a multi-way pot, then it is important to be drawing to the nuts. In other words, you want to draw to an Ace-high flush, not a 9-high flush. Also, you don't want to draw toward straights if you have low cards and are likely to end up at the low end of the straight.
You may wish to simply call preflop with drawing hands so as to not scare away the loose-passive players. This way you also risk less if you don't hit your draw. However, if you hold a hand which has strength in high cards, such as A A K J, then you should raise. You should also raise with several drawing possibilities to build up the pot, if you feel that people are staying in too much for big pots.
Hands with only a high pair can sometimes be played. Play AAxx, KKxx definitely; with AAxx you should raise if you think you can knock people out and get the hand heads-up or 3-way. Hands like QQxx and JJxx aren't so great in Omaha. In most cases, you'll need to make a set with your high pair in order to win the pot. With high pairs you really want to hit a high full house, and rob someone who thinks their lower full house is the high-hand. The main reason high pairs are much less valuable than in Texas Hold'em is because having an Overpair on the flop is usually worthless in Omaha. Most likely someone else flopped two-pair. The more people in the hand, the more likely it is your overpair is dominated.
In general, you want to fold any hand unless you have top 2 pair or a draw to the nuts or near-nuts (for example a King-high flush). These requirements can be relaxed a bit if the game is shorthanded: you can draw to slightly lower straights and flushes. However, you still don't want to be calling with one pair.
If there is a pair on board and you don't have trips, then do not draw. Most likely someone has the trips and you're unlikely to semi-bluff people out of the pot. If you call and hit your draw, you may be beat by a full house!
Semi-bluffs are only useful if you can think you can win outright. However, in many loose low-limit games you will get called to showdown by multiple players. In this case, you don't want to semi-bluff that much. Maybe throw in one or two for deception, but try to avoid it otherwise.
Two pair and sets are troublesome if there is a draw on board. With several people in hand, there may be so many outs against you that you will probably lose the hand! Try to go for a check-raise and punish people for drawing. However, be prepared to fold at the turn if a draw (or two!) hits and you think you are beat. If you hit your full house, you can try slowplaying (if you have the nut full house) and hope someone hits their straight or flush. However, don't overdo the slowplay, you should only do it if you really can't be hurt by the river card, and be more inclined to slowplay if the opponents fall for it often and if you have position. If you find your opponents to be call-stations then go ahead and bet on the turn anyway. If your opponents are new at Omaha and they think their Ace-flush is the nut hand when the board is paired, you don't want to slowplay. Bad players cap out against you on the turn and river despite the full house possibility showing!
However, please note that full house is not even guaranteed to be high-hand. It is quite common to see one full house beat by another at an Omaha game. Generally, you have a low full house if your set is lower than the board pair, and you are probably safe to win if your set is higher than the board pair. The best way to tell if your full house is the best hand is by paying attention to your opponents betting sequence. With a low full house, you may consider trying to encourage a bluff by checking and calling instead of betting out.
If you hit your flush or straight by the turn you definitely should bet hard, and even check-raise if you are certain someone will bet (but just bet outright if you have any doubt). There could easily be a set or two pair out against you and they could make their full house on the river. Make sure they don't get a free card here.
Often times the board will have no straight or flush showing and you think your two pair or set is the high hand. Then a scare card will hit on the river. If this happens, you may want to check down the river. After all, if you get check-raised, you are doubling the amount of money you have put into the hand. It depends on how many opponents are still in the hand and how they played it, but in a multi-way pot, checking is usually the right move. However, if your opponent rarely check-raises, or if he has played the hand like he had two pair, then you may consider betting.
If you are on the other side of the coin, and you hit your hand on the river, you may want to bet out instead of check-raising, because your opponent may check it down. I usually mix-up whether I bet or check-raise in that situation, depending on what I think my opponent has, but also to add deception and uncertainty. It is important to make your opponents fear the check-raise so that they are afraid to bet on the river, letting you see some showdowns more cheaply.
Pot-Limit Omaha is a unique game. It is one of the few poker games that is much more widely played in Europe than in North America. Pot-Limit Omaha also is a game that tends to have huge swings. Even a poor player can be lucky one night and win almost all of the chips at the table in a game of Pot-Limit Omaha. It is also one of the few games that tends to be associated with higher stakes. While there are many low- and mid-stakes Pot-Limit Omaha games it is a very popular game in the high stakes arena.
This article is intended to help beginners learn Pot-Limit Omaha. This is NOT intended for people planning on playing the higher-stakes games where psychological factors are in play a lot more than they are at lower stakes.
Pot-Limit Omaha is very different from Hold'em. In Hold'em, people commonly call down with second best hands. This is because people rarely hold the nuts in Hold'em. If someone always folded their non-nut hands in Texas Hold'em, they would be a guaranteed loser in the long run. One must call or bet with imperfect hands such as top pair or bottom set.
However, frequently calling with fragile holdings is a recipe for disaster in Pot-Limit Omaha. Players often hold the nuts when playing Omaha. Thus, a dream for any Omaha player is to be able to sell their nut hands to players who will call them down with hands that have little chance at improving. If five people see a flop that is Q 10 9, a player with A A Q J should fold their hand to a strong bet. There's little to no chance their aces are the best hand or will hold even if they were the best hand. Their chances of hitting the nut straight are slim and is vulnerable to a flush or full house re-draw.
Pot-Limit Omaha centers on two things: building the nut hand, and position. The first point is obvious. The hands are strong in Pot-Limit Omaha, so you want to be able to hold the best hand. Most Pot-Limit Omaha games do not go to a showdown. When they do, more than likely one player has the nuts or was drawing to the nuts. When two players have strong made hands against each other, generally one has the nut hand or second-nut and the other player also has a near nut hand. An example would be a board with AQ554. One player could have AAxx and the other player might have QQxx. If a player called a huge bet on this board with 23xx, they would be a fool. While this straight would be a strong hand in Hold'em, it would be a very weak hand for this board in Omaha.
Omaha's emphasis on building the nut hand greatly changes starting hand selection. In order to hit the nuts or near nuts, you need hands that coordinate well with themselves. When the board comes, you want to be able to build the nuts in multiple ways. You want to be able to build nut straights, nut flushes, and big full houses. This way, even if your straight is now vulnerable to a flush, you might also have a full house draw. You do not want hands that will be vulnerable to becoming the second best hand. If a hand is ill-coordinated, there is a good chance it will hit the flop decently. However, it could easily be outdrawn on further streets, and you will have little chance of redrawing again to the best hand. So when evaluating your preflop Omaha hand, here are some tips:
Another central concept to Pot-Limit Omaha is position. Omaha is all about position. There are several reasons for this. First, free cards are death in Omaha. If you are in early position, you will almost always have to bet your hand when you flop the nuts. For example, if the board is 7 6 5 and you hold A 9 9 8, you definitely have to bet. Someone could too easily draw to a full house, flush, or perhaps even a higher straight. Because of this, people in early positions tend to give away their hands. People in late position can much more easily bluff at pots because they can be fairly certain that people in early posiitons do not have a hand, and people in late position can sometimes earn themselves extremely valuable free cards.
Omaha Hi/Lo (8 or better) is currently the most popular split-pot poker game in the world. It is important to understand the rules of Omaha before playing Omaha Hi/Lo. While Omaha is very similar to Texas Hold'em, many new Omaha players get confused by the "must use two hole cards and only two hole cards" rule.
The rules for Omaha Hi/Lo are the same as the rules for Omaha Hi, except that the pot is split between the high and and the low hand. The low hand cannot have a card higher than 8. If there is no legal low hand, the entire pot goes to the highest hand. So the only way a low hand is possible is if the board contains unique cards 8 or lower (Ace counts as low). If the board is K 4 8 9 10, no low hand is possible. If the board is Q 2 7 6 9, a low hand is possible and Ace-Three would be the "nut low".
The goal in Omaha Hi/Lo is to scoop the entire pot. Although winning half of the pot is better than nothing, large profits at this game come from winning the entire pot. Effectively scooping pots requires understanding how to win the low side of the pot, as well as what hands work as quality starting hands.
For many new players, the most confusing part of Omaha Hi/Lo is determining the nut-low. In this game, straights and flushes do not affect the low. Thus, the best possible low hand is a wheel (5432A). Furthermore, it is important to remember that the low hands are counted from the top down. A player with 8432A (an 8 low) would lose to a player with 76543 (a 7 low). This surprises most players who instinctively think that 8432A wins due to the ace as the lowest card.
If there is no possible low hand (or if no one holds a low hand), then the person with the best high hand wins the entire pot. Let's look at a few hand examples to better understand some low situations.
This is a split pot. Player #1 wins the high side of the pot with AAA33, and Player #2 wins the low side of the pot with 6432A. In this instance, Player #2 has the nut low which means no one could possibly beat Player #2 for the low, only tie. Player #1's low is 8653A. Player #1 would use A5 from his hand and 368 from the board (he also could use 35 from his hand and A68 from the board).
The flop (754) gave Player #1 (who holds A2) the nut-low. However, on the turn, Player #1's nut-low was "counterfeited." This happened when an ace appeared on the turn, which gave all players the opportunity to have an ace for a low. Now, Player #2 has 5432A for a low, which beats Player #1's 7542A. So in this example, Player #2's dream comes true, and he "scoops" the entire pot.
First, notice that the flop put Player #2 in big trouble after he flopped the second-nut straight (with his J7). Player #1 flopped the nut straight (with his QJ), which put him in position to win a nice pot off of Player #2.
However, the turn and river bail out Player #2 and allow him to win half of the pot at the showdown. In conjunction with the board's 854, Player #2 was able to make a low hand with his 72 to win half the pot. Sometimes a miracle low is what can save a player from losing a lot of money with a bad high. This example illustrates the importance of holding two cards to a low (something that Player #1 did not have with a deceitfully weak AKQJ).
Player #1 scoops the entire pot with his full house (KKQQQ). There is no low hand. There are only two low cards on the board, so it is impossible to make a low hand (remember: you must always use three cards from the board!) While it seems that Player #2 has an amazing low hand, he in fact holds no low at all.
In Omaha Hi/Lo, it is important to hold a strong starting hand. Players need to have a hand that is capable of scooping the entire pot. This means hands that work great in Omaha hi (such as AKQJ or JT98) lose a lot of value in Hi/Lo due to their inability to make a low.
In general, the tightest player at any Omaha Hi/Lo table is likely to be a winning player. Starting hand selection is so critical that demonstrating patience is perhaps the single most important skill to have. Hands that may seem tempting to play (such as A49T) should be folded due to their propensity for making a non-nut low.
The best starting hand in Omaha Hi/Lo is AA23 double-suited. Other very playable hands include (but are not limited to): A234, AAxx, A2xx, A345, A36K, 2345, KQ23. Most winning Omaha Hi/Lo players are very careful about the number of A3xx hands they play. This hand is not nearly as good as it looks, and can often lead to several lost bets after making the second-nut low.
It is important to note the importance of the ace in Omaha Hi/Lo. An ace works as the best card on both ends of the pot. It is the key card in making a nut low, and is also a very important card to have in the high side of the pot for its value as a kicker. Some very famous poker players (Scotty Nguyen for example) have a theory that no Omaha Hi/Lo hand is playable unless it has an ace. Obviously this strategy is a little extreme. But for new players, it may be wise to develop a habit of folding most hands that do not contain an ace.
Position is just as important in Omaha Hi/Lo as it is in Texas hold'em. This means that borderline hands (such as JJ24) should only be played in late position in an un-raised pot.
Most of the time, it is a poor decision for a player to draw to a low after the flop unless they already have the best four to a low. For example, after a flop of A5K, one should not draw for the low unless they are holding 23xx in the pocket. A lot of the profit in playing Omaha Hi/Lo comes from winning chips off of weak players who draw to non-nut lows. Drawing to a low that isn't the nut-low is almost a guaranteed way to lose in Omaha Hi/Lo.
Another common losing mistake in Omaha Hi/Lo is drawing to a running low. For example, most players holding A2xx enter the pot expecting to make the nut-low. However, if the flop comes 8KQ, these players are now reliant on completing a running low-draw just to win half of the pot. These players should fold to a bet. It is a bad move to purposefully draw to two cards for a low.
Being "quartered" is a very key concept in Omaha Hi/Lo. Let's look a hand example of where a player only wins a quarter of the pot:
Notice that both players have used their ace-threes to make the nut-low. This means the low-pot is split between the two players. However, on the high side, Player #1 has a pair of kings which beats Player #2's ace high.
Therefore, Player #1 gets 50% of the pot for making the best hi hand, as well as an additional 25% of the pot for his share of the low pot. Player #1 has "quartered" Player #2 by winning 75% of the pot. Quartering opponents is a very important ingredient in becoming a winning Omaha Hi/Lo player.
Of even more importance is the ability to keep the pot small when you realize that you may be quartered. If you are Player #2 in this example, you need to understand that you may stand to only win 25% of the pot. Thus, when Player #1 bets, do not raise and reraise with your nut-low. Just call.